Dear Broward County Residents,
I am honored to serve as your County Commissioner, representing our coastal communities from Deerfield Beach to Fort Lauderdale and all of the amazing communities in between. Here are some recent highlights from around Broward County:
Preliminary Budget Forecast for Fiscal Year 2018
Broward County’s Fiscal Year 2017 Budget is well underway, and discussions have already begun for the Fiscal Year 2018 Budget. The County Commission began initial discussions in March and will proceed through a series of workshops that culminate with two public hearings in September. At that time, the Operating Budget, Capital Budget and Five-Year Capital Program will be adopted and the new fiscal year will begin in October 2017.
One of the largest contributors to the County’s overall budget is ad valorem property taxes. The Broward County Property Appraiser establishes the value of property and exemptions and also prepares and certifies the tax roll. The Board of County Commissioners, and other taxing authorities, set the millage rates, which are the rates at which property is taxed. In order to calculate a property tax rate, you can multiply the taxable value of the property by the millage rate and divide by 1,000.
In the month of June, the Broward County Property Appraiser was able to provide the Board of County Commissioners with preliminary numbers for the County’s taxable value. These numbers are then finalized in July. The preliminary June 1st estimate provided by the Property Appraiser for FY 2018 is $177.3 billion. After adjustments by the Value Adjustment Board, this is a 9.3 percent increase from FY 2017. The overall General Fund Outlook as of June 2017 is a maximum appropriation increase of 6.3 percent for operations if there is no millage rate reduction. However, as your County Commissioner, it has been my goal to cut your taxes. To do this I have always advocated for the need to reduce the millage rate for Broward County residents. Looking at the FY 2018 budget, it will require a $9.5 million reduction from property-tax supported budgets to reduce the millage rate by 1 percent. Providing I have the support of the rest of the County Commission, this reduction will still provide Broward County Government with sufficient funds to run the necessary services for our residents while also providing a financial relief for residents in Broward County.
Port Everglades Update
The Broward County Board of County Commissioners unanimously approved a $437.5 million expansion project to add new berths for larger cargo ships and install crane rail infrastructure for new Super Post-Panamax Cranes. The Southport Turning Notch Expansion project will lengthen the existing deep water turn-around area for cargo ships from approximately 900 feet to 2,400 feet, which will allow for up to five new cargo ship berths. The existing gantry crane rails will be extended to the full length of the extended Turning Notch berth to utilize the existing cranes.
The County Commission also recently approved a long-term agreement with Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCCL) replacing the current RCCL agreement, which expires at the end of 2017 and continues through September 2026. The agreement includes the investment of more than $100 million for a complete makeover of Cruise Terminal 25, which is the preferential berth for RCCL. This will allow for the Port to build a facility that meets RCCL’s expectations for the new generations of larger cruise ships.
In other Port related news, Fitch Ratings recently affirmed the ‘A’ rating on Broward County’s Port Everglades outstanding $167 million port facilities senior revenue and refunding bonds while also providing a revised Rating Outlook from Stable to Positive. This Positive Outlook is great news for Broward County as it reflects the expectation that the Port will continue to demonstrate strong financial performance in terms of coverage and leverage. Additionally, it reflects an anticipation that the Port will maintain its diverse maritime operations and increasing revenue growth.
For more updates and information please visit Port Everglades.
Emergency Radio Upgrade
Since consolidation of the new Regional 911 system in October 2014, Broward County has initiated many projects and system upgrades to improve and enhance the performance of public safety response in Broward County. Most recent, the Board of County Commissioners voted to invest nearly $60 million to replace a 30 year old public safety radio system. The system will be replaced in 2018 with one of the most advanced systems in the industry, a Motorola P25 system. The new system will improve communication between responding units during an emergency as well as with federal, state and regional agencies.
New Library Program Provides Free Wi-Fi Hotspots to Veterans
The Broward County Libraries Division recently launched an innovative initiative in conjunction with T-Mobile that provides 450 free Wi-Fi hotspots to local veterans, active military members and their dependents. The Veterans Connect Hotspots Program provides unlimited access to T-Mobile’s 4G LTE network and increased access to information and technology for their users. The free hotspots will be loaned for one month to veterans, active military members and their dependents with valid military identification cards. Users than have the option to renew the loan three more times.
Many veterans have difficulty transitioning to civilian life. This program will now better assist veterans by encouraging education, self-development and career advancement through technology. In addition, the program encourages the use of Broward County Libraries’ vast resources and services by members of the military community. Veterans, active military members and their dependents interested in participating in the Veterans Connect Hotspot Program will be able to check out the free hotspots at nine Broward County Library locations valid military identification.
For more information, please call 954-357-7444 or visit Broward.org/Library/Veterans.
Broward County Receives Awards
The National Association of Counties (NACo) recently awarded Broward County with 16 Achievement Awards. The annual awards recognize innovative, effective county government programs that enhance services for residents in a variety of areas. Several County divisions were recognized specifically for initiatives that promote environmental preservation and conservation, improvements in customer services, programs that help pets and persons experiencing homelessness, and internal activities relating to purchasing, risk management and employee communications. The award winning divisions are: the Human Resource Division, Libraries Division, Environmental Planning and Community Resilience Division, Records, Taxes and Treasury Division, Enterprise Technology Services Division, Animal Care and Adoption Division, Purchasing Division, Public Works, Transportation Department and the Risk Management Division.
Broward County Academy
Class VI of the Broward County Academy will begin in just a few months and applications are now being accepted. The goal of the Academy is to increase resident involvement in local government, improve communication with the community, inform the community on the role, structure and complexity of County government, encourage community participation in volunteer opportunities, and build potential community leaders. The 2017 Academy sessions will begin on Tuesday, September 12th followed by nine consecutive Thursdays from 6-9PM concluding with graduation ceremonies on November 16th. The deadline to apply is Friday, July 14th. Applications for the Broward County Academy are available by clicking the link below, by emailing BrowardAcademy@Broward.org, or calling the Broward County Office of Public Communications at 954-357-6990. For more information please visit Broward County Academy.
The Resident's Guide to Government provides a convenient resource to help people stay connected to their local government. It includes contact information for County officials and Federal, State, and local agencies. Visitors can subscribe to E-news and social media sites. Please sign up at www.Broward.org/District4 to receive email updates from our office. If there is anything that we can do to assist you with your vision for a better Broward, please do not hesitate to contact our office at 954-357-7004 or by email at email@example.com.
As always, it is my honor and privilege to serve you.